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Crowd Control I; Sheep Wars

July 27, 2010

In my previous post (Flavour and Consistency in Tanking 8: The Future of Tanking) I said:

“As a dps, I like the idea of crowd control coming back. As a tank, I don’t. It is as simple as that. Crowd control gives a good dps the chance to show their skill but all it means for the tank is stress and the need to trust someone else with a key job. Further, between cleaves and aoe debuffs it is very difficult to tank crowd controlled pulls.”

In a rather negative mood, I also said I saw two possibilities for Cataclysm:

“In the first, crowd control returns triumphant and tanks die when more than 1 or 2 mobs sneeze on them. We look at our shiny aoe tools in disgust and never get to use them. All the classes who were viable given crowd control for Wrath and never got to use them (for example Druids and Shaman) make sure they wait until the mob is in consecrate range before they use their hex and then laugh as the tank desperately runs away from the mob in a futile attempt to be able to press a button without breaking the control.

“In the second, tanks ignore the fact that classes have crowd control and just tank everything anyway. Tanks feel hard and happy, dps classes use their aoe spells and everyone says “Sheep? What sheep?”.”

Leaving aside my questionable dodgy jokes, I feel there are some points here that could benefit from more discussion.

1) Why bring back crowd control?
2) Why tanks might dislike crowd control.
3) Why groups won’t use crowd control unless they have to.
3) What changes need to be made to crowd control and/or tanking abilities to mitigate this.

In my next series of posts I’ll be looking at these questions.

The History of Crowd Control

Back in the Burning Crusade, Crowd Control was a way of life. Even fairly well geared tanks would routinely call for it in most heroics. In Magister’s Terrace it was so desired that I barely ever got my shaman there because only dps with crowd control were truly welcome. A good crowd controller was a truly desired member of your group; a hunter who could chain trap would be known for this.

I remember being seriously impressed by a warlock who could control three mobs at once in some pulls in Magister’s Terrace – banishing a demon, succubus seducing a humanoid and using a combination of fear, curse of recklessness kiting to keep another off the tank. OK, he barely did any dps throughout this. Who cared? The tank only had to deal with one or two mobs during this time.

The result of this was that when Wrath turned up, the developers gave viable crowd control to nearly all the dps classes who had lacked it before. Off the top of my head, Retribution paladins got a repentance that worked, Shaman got Hex, Druids got to use Entangling Roots indoors, Rogues’ Sap got buffed to work on more types of creatures. Cheers resounded through the internet.

But at the same time, they gave aoe tanking tools to all classes. Warriors got a buffed Thunderclap (I think) and Shockwave, Druids got a Swipe that made them cry for joy (and then got it continually buffed until it is now the most ridiculously powerful aoe tanking tool in the game), Death Knights were created with powerful tools such as diseases and death and decay. Paladins actually got slightly nerfed but they had been very strong before.

We walked into Northrend, aoe’d the hell out of it and never looked back.

Why bring back Crowd Control?

It is one of those lines that has turned into a truism of WoW that the skill levels of dps have dropped. I think this is unfair actually as some skills are far more called for than before (getting out of the fire for example) but there is no measure of skill beyond the meters and this is a shame. The return of crowd control would fix this. We would again know a mage not just as “Mr. 9k DPS” but as “Mr. 7k DPS while keeping an enemy caster permanently locked down”. We would be impressed by a hunter who could trap two mobs at once (it is possible, I have seen a cat on this very blog do that for a scarily long time).

It would bring a layer of interest and complexity to the dps role that it has been losing. When running my mage through a heroic the only question I ask is whether there are enough mobs in a group to justify blizzard rather than single target attacks in succession. This gets old fairly quickly.

So the answer to the question is that it will please the more skilled dps and allow them to differentiate themselves from the masses. This can only be a good thing. I, therefore, support the goal of increasing crowd control in dungeons.

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